England fans have been warned not to go medieval by wearing “offensive” crusader costumes during the highly anticipated match against the US on Friday.
FIFA issued a stern warning against showing up clad in the traditional imitation outfits consisting of chain-mail, shields and swords.
An official with soccer’s governing body told the Times of London that it “strives to create a discrimination-free environment, to promote diversity across the organization and in all of its activities and events.”
The official explained that “crusader costumes in the Arab context can be offensive against Muslims. That is why anti-discrimination colleagues asked fans to wear things inside out or change dress.”
Many Arabs are offended by the Crusades, when Christians sought to capture Jerusalem and nearby areas under Islamic rule during the 11th to 13th centuries.
FIFA is cracking down on the costumes after images emerged of England supporters wearing them at the team’s opener against Iran, which it demolished by a score of 6-2.
The issues of culture and human rights have taken center stage at the World Cup in Qatar, where some Wales fans were ordered to remove hats with the rainbow colors of the LGBT community at their team’s 1-1 match against the US.
Same-sex relations are illegal in Qatar.
Simon John, a senior lecturer in medieval history at Swansea University in south Wales, explained the significance of the Crusades in the Muslim world.
“As soon as you know anything about crusading history, you know it would produce a reaction like this in the Islamic world,” he told NBC News.
“We’re talking about a period of history that is still very much remembered and talked about in the Muslim world in quite a detailed way — the same is not true in the West,” John added.
It is unclear if the fans wearing the red-and-white costumes are imitating St. George, the patron saint of England, or Crusaders, the news outlet said.
“Qatari laws and customs are very different to those in the U.K. Be aware of your actions to ensure that they don’t offend,” the British Foreign Office advised British fans.
The England-USA group stage match kicks off at 2 p.m. ET.
With Post Wires